Acorn Industrial Services Ltd is part of Axel Johnson International, a global industrial group of more than 120 companies in 28 countries. Supplying genuine, high quality engineering and maintenance products, and with over thirty years’ experience in distribution, Acorn has built a strong reputation for outstanding customer service, product choice and customer solutions.
The business objectives
Acorn’s declared strategy is “to continue leading the way, bringing the latest technological innovations and industry solutions to our customers”. In practice, Acorn supplements its core Microsoft software technology with ‘best of breed’ specialist software. The aim is always to enhance Acorn’s working practices and fine tune efficiency throughout the distribution process, from stock management to logistics, resulting in a superior customer experience.
As an integral part of this process, Acorn sought a system that would optimise its delivery operations. After an extensive and thorough examination of available systems the Acorn management team selected the ‘PODStar’ Electronic Proof of Delivery system from Manchester-based Touchstar Technologies.
The Cloud-based PODStar system offers a planning tool that automates existing manual processes. Using a custom API routine, Acorn can utilise up-to-date information to create job runs and to allocate drivers and vehicles. Once a manifest has been created it is then automatically sent out to the drivers remotely in the field. Once downloaded the driver can receive their jobs and, ultimately, provide electronic proof of delivery in real time. Acorn delivery drivers are equipped with smart phones with the handheld device used for both proof of delivery/signature capture and tracking of the driver location. Back at the Acorn depots, management can view a real-time update on a ‘jobs table’ and the driver’s location, as well as additional data and the job status and driver performance.
Aiden Thornton, Warehouse Manager for Acorn Industrial Services headed up the implementation team, working closely with the business development and project management teams from Touchstar. He describes how smoothly the implementation process went: “Right from the first meeting I was impressed how the Team at Touchstar firstly presented the product and secondly how it worked. Team members were always willing to come and visit site for meetings and demos with various members of Acorn’s Team, right up until we were sure it was Podstar we wanted to go with.
“We have only been using the system for a short period of time but it has already proved to be an asset for customers chasing POD’s and for our sales team locating the drivers on their deliveries and being able to give customers an ETA’s for their deliveries. The product itself is very easy to use which very minimal driver training on the handhelds required. I have rolled the system out to all of my drivers with very minimal disruption to the operation. All the drivers like the ease of use on the PODStar app and several customers have commented that they like how quickly they can get a POD sent directly to them after the job is completed.
“The work that Touchstar has done for Acorn has been fantastic. We presented them with some feature requests that they had not encountered before but they worked the issues and came up with viable solutions to ensure the use of Podstar was as simple as possible for all concerned. I would highly recommend this product to anyone looking to move away from a paper-based delivery system.”
Touchstar Technologies has recently produced a video case study providing further details of the Acorn ‘PODStar’ implementation. It can be viewed at www.podstar.co.uk/case-studies